It’s hard to overstate how significant an icon Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik was – and remains – to the greater Yeshiva University community.
The community often finds a good reason to hold an event or class to remember the Rav. This year – 25 years since the Rav’s passing – has already seen several functions remembering the late YU rosh yeshiva and thought leader.
And Sunday was an especially good reason to remember the Rav again – an event, co-sponsored by Yeshiva University-RIETS and OU Press, celebrating the publication of the final volume of Chumash Mesoras HaRav.
The event featured several well-known rabbonim, scholars and communal leaders, including Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the Rav’s leading students; Rabbi Mayer Twersky, the Rav’s grandson; Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher; Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of YU; Rabbi Julius Berman, YU trustee; and Rabbi Simon Posner, executive editor of OU Press.
The highlight of the morning came during the presentation of Dr. Arnold Lustiger, the editor of Chumash Mesoras HaRav, as well as a few other Rav Soloveitchik works.
Dr. Lustiger played two audio clips of the Rav speaking – mostly in Yiddish – with English captions provided on screen.
In the first, the Rav explains that Hashem is everyone’s rebbe. Whenever someone learns, he is learning with Hashem.
In the second, the Rav emphasized the emotional and loving aspects of learning Torah – which are far more essential for a person’s growth and connection to Hashem than the intellectual connection.
Both Dr. Lustiger, and Rabbi Twersky emphasized that as much as this newly published Chumash – as well as all of the Rav’s books and writings – offer a glimpse into the Rav and his Torah, they offer only a glimpse. They can only begin to approximate what it was like to sit at one of the Rav’s shiurim in person.
Hearing the Rav on Sunday, I felt like I got a little closer. And while I’ve heard audio recordings of a few shiurim and lectures by the Rav in the past, there was something unique about experiencing it in a crowd – a small experiential slice of learning from the Rav.
It was also beneficial that a Yiddish lecture was now open to English listeners.
After the event, I asked Dr. Lustiger if he plans to translate more of the Rav’s non-English shiurim, and he confirmed that he is.
There are some people whom I’ve never met, but still miss. I miss the Rav.
Alas, I will have to do with this superbly edited and magnificent looking set, Chumash Mesoras HaRav.